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Korean Drama Review: Scent of a Woman

Scent of Woman Poster

SYNOPSIS:

Lee Yeon Jae (Kim Sun Ah) is a woman in a rut. Yeon Jae is in in her mid-thirties, has not gone college, is sexually harassed and otherwise demeaned by her boss, spends no money on herself, and has been working for more than ten years as the equivalent of an NBC Page at a travel agency.  A new world opens up when Yeon Jae gets the assignment of finding an expensive car for one of the travel agency’s customers. Yeon Jae is almost out of luck, but then she discovers that the President of the travel agency’s heir, who is also a director, has come back to town and owns the exact car she is looking for.

In the process of tracking down this car, she gets into a car accident. At the hospital, they perform several tests and x-rays on Yeon Jae. At the hospital, Yeon Jae’s doctor turns out to be a friend from childhood, Chae Eun-suk (nicknamed poopy pants). Eun Suk (Uhm Ki Joon)is not pleased to see Yeon Jae. First, because Yeon Jae is a symbol of the fatal day when he pooped his pants in school, and second because he has to tell Yeon Jae about her health. Yeon Jae immediately brushes aside Eun Suk’s disconcerting looks, because she is happy to see an old friend and is perfectly content living in her small, predictable, yet unsatisfying world. Next think you know, Eun Suk has is telling Yeon Jae that she has a tumor.

Yeon Jae’s policy is avoidance, so she returns to work. At work she sees the director, her dream man, and wonders how her life would be with Kang Ji Wook (Lee Dong Wook). Ji Wook quickly turns into a symbol of all the things that she has wanted to experience, but does not have the guts to do. However, she is still the same Yeon Jae, so she stares dreamily, eye stalks, and gives herself pep talks in preparation for the inevitable meeting with the man of her dreams.

At work, things are getting worse when a famous pianist, Andy Wilson, comes to town and Yeon Jae is volunteered as his personal tour guide. This tour forces her to miss her appointment with Eun Suk regarding the results of the tests. Everything goes wrong with the tour, from the lack of halal cuisine to being falsely accused of stealing Mr. Wilson’s ring. In addition to being berated by her boss, Yeon Jae gets slapped by Im Se-kyung, whose company is responsible for Andy Wilson’s performances in Korea. Im Se Kyung is another  rich corporate heir. Se Kyung has a sense of entitlement, which includes not abiding by any social graces for those below her economic status. Se Kyung also happens to be Ji Wook’s future fiance.

Since a hungry stomach has no ears, Yeon Jae returns to work wondering if her life can get any more dismal.  And it does, when Yeon Jae gets the first physical signs that her illness is real. When Yeon Jae finally makes it back to the hospital, she is told she has a rare form of cancer and only has six months to live. Her life suddenly becomes more vivid and her race to do everything she always wanted, ensure that the people she loves most will be okay without her, and right all past wrongs is on. Part one is going on a vacation, quitting her job, and getting new wardrobe .(I really like this plan.)

Off to Okinawa, Japan.  While Yeon Jae is on vacation, and looking what can only be described as fabulous, she runs into the man of her dreams, Ji Wook. Ji Wook’s trip to Okinawa is just one more thing to appease his Dad. Ji Wook is there to work on plans for a vacation packages to Okinawa. Ji Wook is jaded and nonchalant, but without angst. Therefore, Ji Wook goes with his father’s wishes in hope that one day his life may become meaningful, but the reality of that happening is weak considering he is waiting for something to happen rather than willing to change his own course.

When Yeon Jae spots Ji Wook, and figures out that Ji Wook is waiting for a tour guide from his company to take him around Okinawa, Yeon Jae pretends to be her. There is a little bit of confusion, given that Yeon Jae and the tour guide have the same last name. However, once Yeon Jae discovers the mix-up, she keeps the charade going. Yeon Jae knows everything about Okinawa from her time at the travel agency and wants to get a shot at seducing her dream man. Yeon Jae and Ji Wook are drawn to each other immediately and end up hanging out and touring for days. Ji Wook finally realizes this is what he has been waiting for, love.

However, things take a turn for the worse when Ji Wook discovers that Yeon Jae is an imposter and an ex-company employee accused of stealing. There growing friendship that blossomed on a house full of lies collapses. Sometime later, Ji Wook sees Yeon Jae in Korea and meets a totally different woman. What Ji Wook doesn’t know is that he is looking at someone who is carrying the the burden of believing that her best years are behind her. At this point, Yeon Jae is bogged down from constant trips to the hospital to receive her treatments.

Yeon Jae has not told anyone about her diagnoses, including her mother who she lives with. Thus, Eun Suk is the only one Yeon Jae confides in and he becomes her rock. Eun Suk tells her that she has to let other people in, but Yeon Jae resists. Yeon Jae also vehemently resists Ji Wook in Korea. Now, times have changed and Ji Wook wants to reunite with Yeon Jae after he finds that he can’t go back to his life before her. Even though, Yeon Jae loves Ji Wook, she doesn’t want him to have to go through the heartbreak of loving someone and then quickly loosing them. But, Ji Wook doesn’t care…

REVIEW:

 1/2

Yeon Jae and Ji Wook (Kim Sun Ah and Lee Dong Wook):  And I will go down with this ship… (seriously drama character wise it’s this and Joe Cheng and Ariel Lin in It Started With A Kiss. I don’t care if its not real life, just love these OTPs. They give me so much happiness, I could cry. Thank you writers!) The reason why a drama that would normally be a melodrama, is actually just a romantic drama and almost could be a romantic comedy. Don’t be concerned about the sadness, although I did cry. There were really just too many cute and loving scenes to the point I just spent most of the time with a big grin on my face. Don’t even get me started on the BTS, because I try to restrain myself from becoming delusional. Anyways, this drama makes you believe in love at first sight and the power of meet-cute. When Yeon Jae and Ji Wook met, it was a thrilling calm, two characters that were made to be together finally met. Their initial interactions were seamless, in that they exhibited some awkwardness, wariness, disbelief, but all of their reticence was overcome by their enchantment.

Kim Sun Ah as Yeon Jae: Another great heroine played by Kim Sun Ah. Yeon Jae had several great story lines that involved redemption, rebirth, and renewal: finding her niche in the travel industry; figuring out that she is actually quite pretty; telling her teacher who was in love with her mom that she is sorry for falsely accusing him of sexual assault; providing for her mom’s future and finding her a husband; choosing love over comfort; and recognizing that she deserves someone of Ji Wook’s stature. What stood out the most was Yeon Jae’s strength, she went from a weakling to becoming a person that others leaned on when they were attempting to grasp Yeon Jae’s circumstances. All of these story lines intertwined impeccably, sometimes you hated Yeon Jae, other times you felt sorry for her, and most of the time you loved her and hoped that she would find all that she was missing before it was too late.

Lee Dong Wook as Ji Wook: This is my favorite Lee Dong Wook drama character. While there seems to be little on the surface, Ji Wook has a convoluted set of her characteristics stretching from being a recluse to becoming a desperate man searching for meaning in his life, and later trying to hold on to it. Whereas there were many sweet scenes between Yeon Jae and Ji Wook, most of Ji Wook’s development came through his interactions with: his father, who does not want his son to fall in love with a girl that is older, relatively poor, and whose diagnosis will break his heart; his fiance (arranged by his dad), who thinks that she has found the perfect man based on her previous dating experiences with men who use her, who won’t give Ji Wook up because he has been so good to her, and who knows Yeon Jae’s condition; and Eun Suk, who challenges him by showing him the type of dependable man that Yeon Jae needs while she is traveling through a physical and emotional rollercoaster.

Seo Hyo Rim as Im Se Kyung: One of the best written and portrayed evil second female leads I have seen in awhile. Se Kyung is evil in all the right ways. She is mean and not out of no where psycho, meaning that the writer actually found a way to make her actions consistent with plausible motivations. Most of her slapping fury comes from the pain of being mistreated and abandoned by her former lover. Im Se Kyung tries to prove her self-worth and compensate for her low self-esteerm by distinguishing herself from others the only way she can, which is by treating people who are less fortunate than her  like crap. Ji Wook is the only one who sees Se Kyung as a better person than she sees herself, therefore she is determined not to let him go. Once she realizes that this is the same way Ji Wook feels about Yeon Jae, she releases him. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, we all know that a small part of Se Kyung is waiting for him to come back to her.

Ramses, Yeon Jae’s Boss, and Eun Suk, the Other Guys: Ramses, Yeon Jae’s Boss, and Eun Suk play special roles in Yeon Jae’s journey. Ramses, played by Kim Kwang Kyu, and Yeon Jae’s Boss, played by Shin Jeong-Keun, are some of the best character actors in the business and both were also in City Hall. Ramses leads Yeon Jae into the world of tango, finally Yeon Jae has an interest of her own. Yeon Jae’s Boss, who mistreated her in the past, has a hard time acknowledging Yeon Jae’s hard work and dedication to the travel agency, but after she leaves for good he misses her ethos the most. Eun Suk’s relationship with Yeon Jae transforms him from a cynical and aloof doctor to one who engages life, friends, and most shockingly his patients.

Highlights

  • Yeon Jae’s hospital friend who turns into a younger sister (she is so cute and so was her dance with Eun Suk)
  • Eun Suk’s race with Yeon Jae at their old school
  • Vacation in Okinawa was refreshing and I could have spent 5 episodes there
  • “How do you save money: eat at work cafeteria, buy clothes from street vendors, have  2 pairs of shoes, don’t even look at designer clothes or handbags, and don’t dream of vacation” (This drama has several sayings that speak the truth.)
  • Can someone tell me what kind of car Ji Wook is driving, it’s cool
  • Camping Trip
  • Breathless Tango Dance with Ji Wook
  • Post-Intimate Session Back Hug
  • The story of the guy in Okinawa watching his child’s wedding from a distance (so many good stories and good characters)
  • Yeon Jae’s best friend, Hye Won
  • Yeon Jae’s teacher is an old school player when it comes to courting Yeon Jae’s mom
  • Yeon Jae, “I’m rich until I die.”
  • Mother-Daughter Spa Day (watch this with your mom if you can)
  • Ji Wook lonely in Tango class (like a puppy)
  • Spell you’re sorry with your butt
  • Yeon Jae’s cute bathing suits
  • “Does someone like you even have a reputation to be insulted” so mean Se Kyung, but yet you’re so good.
  • The rescue of Mal Bok and his adoption by Eun Suk
  • Eun Suk and Yeon Jae’s performance at the hospital and Yeon Jae’s dress (loved it)
  • Date with personal fireworks, it works every time for me. (It is not even a wedding, just a date.)
  • Yeon Jae’s Mom to Yeon Jae about Ji Wook “Because if I tell him how much I like him, he’ll think you are not precious to me.” (tears)
  • Getting Ramses a new toupee
  • Yeon Jae to girls in the office, “Wish your heart was as pretty as your face.”
  • Cell Phone Ringtones
    • Another Day by Buckshot LeFonque
    • Hawaiian Couple Song by Humming Urban Radio 
  • You Are So Beautiful by Junsu (JYJ)

Ugh

  • Not the greatest performance by Junsu
  • Andy Wilson, you know how to piss people off with your petulance
  • Ji Wook as Captain Save a Vulnerable Girl
  • Yeon Jae skipping out on her appointments
  • Ji Wook’s Dad is just too much
  • The fate of an oncologist is sad
  • Too much slapping

So that is a 4 and a half out of 5. I have already re-watched and can only imagine that I will love it more as I get older. It is great drama to watch with your mom, so if you have time to watch it over the holidays, you will not regret it. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.

Up Next: Queen In Hyun’s Man, Answer Me 1997, or King2Hearts (I have been struggling to get to the end, but only have 4 episodes left… yipee!). I have given up on City Hunter for now, because I keep having to start over to keep up with all the information, so hopefully sometime next year.

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